Arsene Wenger is said to be planning ahead of new signings in the summer, despite his own future still remaining in doubt.
Arsene Wenger is chasing a new left-back with the promising talent, Jose Gaya leading the list of potential candidates, according to the Daily Mirror.
Gunners boss Wenger has identified the left-back position as a weakness that will need rectifying come next year with the likes of Nacho Monreal ageing and Kieran Gibbs being a squad player. The Frenchman wants to sign someone who can make that place their own for years to come.
Monreal has struggled thus far this season and has not been himself since hitting form in the 15/16 season where he was arguably amongst the top five left back’s in Europe for his ability and consistency. He became a fan favourite that season, with many labelling him ‘Mr. Consistent’ – but he doesn’t look the same player this season.
Kieran Gibbs’s position within the club is also a predicament, with just 18 months left on his contract and uncertainty arising whether he will be offered an extension – it is likely we will see the Gunners man leave the North Londoners next summer.
21-year-old Gaya is thought of as one of Europe’s brightest prospects and has been linked with the Gunners in previous years. After suffering from non-stop muscle injuries in recent months it seemed to take a hit on the defender, halting his progress but the Spaniard is now looking to realise the colossal potential he possesses.
Gaya has been a huge success since his breakthrough from the Valencia academy and has gone on to make 56 appearances for the club in the league. The academy graduate is one of the only things right at the club right now with the club sitting in 17th position in La Liga and being on a downward spiral.
Gaya is yet to make his international debut despite being called up twice to the Spanish national squad, but his arrival would increase the pressure on Monreal.
Gaya has been a potential target for the likes of Real Madrid in previous years. The Spanish man loves bombing up and down the flank and helping out offensively whilst remaining defensively sound and this is something which will attract potential suitors, with managers expecting their defenders to become an outlet at all times when going forward. He’s of similar ilk to Hector Bellerin, but on the left side.
Playing as an attacking full back, this has allowed Gaya to play more as a wing-back, ensuring he gets into greater attacking positions, this would be a much welcome strength for Arsene Wenger as it gives him options if he did decide to change up his famous 4-2-3-1 formation.
Arsenal have been known to be vulnerable on the counter-attack, and the thought of having an attacking full-back may worry some fans, but another trait the Spaniard carries is electric pace which certainly rescues him/team in a defensive sense.
We take a look at how he measures up against current Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal and how he would fit the Arsenal system.
Being a defender in the modern game, although you are asked to possess many different qualities the number one trait all managers will want is tackles won, and Gaya comes out on top of the Gunners man Monreal by winning 2.24 tackles per 90 minutes with the latter managing 1.26 thus far this season.
The 21-year-old also impresses with successful take ons, having the burst of pace and ability to get past their man in a defensive transition is key, and the Valencia man again comes out on top ahead of the Arsenal star by completing 59.09% with Monreal just behind on 58.33%.
The Premier League, as many people know, it is the toughest / most physical league in the world and as a defender you must be cut out to win aerial duels against the opponent, and again Gaya comes out on top, standing at 5 ft 7, managing to win 54.55% of his aerial duels with Monreal managing just 40%. You could argue La Liga is far less physical in that aspect but the stat itself is still very impressive.
Arsenal Football Club holds an identity which is well known across Europe, and that is to play beautiful football, which the man himself Arsene Wenger brought to the club. Being prodigious in possession is key for any member of Arsenal’s squad and Monreal does top his Spanish compatriot in this trait with 83% pass completion which is just ahead of the Valencia full-back (75%).
But, being efficient in possession is even more key for Arsenal with Gaya again impressing with key passes, accomplishing 0.85 per 90 minutes which is far better than Monreal, 0.38.
As you can see from the stats above, Gaya would be a great signing for the Gunners. He is still very young and raw, but given Wenger’s speciality for developing young talent, Gaya has the potential to be a significant upgrade on his compatriot Monreal and with much more time on his side.
Looking at the prospect of having Hector Bellerin (21) and Jose Gaya (21) the North Londoners would potentially have their full-back pairing for the next decade sorted. They’re both extremely exciting talents and are destined to become world class players, the club will likely have to cough up around £30 million for his services, but investing in someone carrying such ability, the club should prioritise his signature next summer and save him from the crisis at Los Che Els Taronges.
It’s worth remembering that Arsenal recently dealt with Valencia, bringing Mustafi to the club.